Australia stands ready to support Vietnam and ASEAN

Update: 11:00 | 08/08/2020
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Ambassador of Australia to Vietnam Robyn Mudie.

As our two Prime Ministers reaffirmed in August 2019, Vietnam and Australia are strategic partners, with a shared neighbourhood and common outlook. We share a deep, abiding commitment to ASEAN centrality and ASEAN-led architecture, including the East Asia Summit.

Australia’s most important foreign and security policy goal is to foster an open, inclusive, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. As Prime Minister Morrison has said, “our vision of the Indo-Pacific has ASEAN at its core”.

Australia is proud to be ASEAN’s longest-standing dialogue partner. Through almost five decades of cooperation, we have built a shared agenda for regional peace and prosperity. Our substantial Strategic Partnership with ASEAN continues to flourish.

Vietnam’s ASEAN Chair year comes against the background of significant geostrategic shifts. As the 2019 ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific made clear, these shifts bring both opportunities and challenges. Australia strongly supports the principles outlined in the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, including openness, transparency, inclusivity, respect for sovereignty, a rules-based framework and respect for international law.

This year, we have collectively faced the COVID-19 pandemic, which has presented new challenges, both to our health security and economies. ASEAN’s central role in the region has been reinforced by its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia stands ready to support Vietnam and ASEAN as we respond to the pandemic and chart a course towards economic recovery.

Vietnam’s 2020 Chair theme of a "Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN" is very timely. It recognises that stability and prosperity become far more likely when we work together through strong and responsive institutions. Since its inception in 1967, ASEAN has repeatedly proven this. It has built habits of dialogue, cooperation and trust; and in doing so has attracted new members and partners. Vietnam’s accession to ASEAN in 1995 and its evolution into one of ASEAN’s strongest proponents is a powerful example of this.

Australia is committed to supporting Vietnam as ASEAN Chair in this critical year. Our shared overriding preoccupation will naturally be cooperation on the COVID-19 response and economic recovery. At the same time, however, we must not lose sight of other priorities. Australia will stand with Vietnam in advancing its broader agenda for ASEAN, including as we pursue the signature of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, for example. To help implement the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, we will enhance practical cooperation in key areas like connectivity and maritime security. And as a long-standing partner of the Mekong sub-region, we will actively support Vietnam’s focus on the Mekong in ASEAN.

Looking ahead, ASEAN’s importance to Australia will only grow as our security, economic and socio-cultural interests, and our peoples, become more closely intertwined. As the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced, ASEAN’s role in forging a shared regional agenda for prosperity and stability has never been more important.

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Robyn Mudie

Ambassador of Australia to Vietnam